Disc Players

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Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 24, 2023
hfnoutstandingAVM's flagship all-in-one network/CD music system combines cool-running power with huge flexibility while the top 'Black Edition' features a custom finish and selected tubes

Nowadays there's a wealth of all-in-one units available but AVM was one of the brands to spot the trend early on. That partly explains why, even in an industry that loves extensive model ranges, the company has an impressively large product offering – including five streaming receiver solutions. And there's little concession to price in this range, so the top-of-the-line £14,950 Ovation CS 8.3 model boasts ample power reserves, a full range of streaming capabilities and a slot-loading CD player.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 14, 2022
hfnvintageBelieving portables to be as good as their full-sized rivals, many music lovers sought out the smallest – and this CD player was a compact king. How does it sound today?

Think about portable CD players and the chances are that the Sony Discman [HFN Jul '19] will come to mind. The company's ability to produce enchanting and compelling miniature versions of existing products has been pretty much unequalled, and 'the world's smallest' is a phrase that can often be seen in Sony's vintage catalogues. In comparison, the company's larger models were frequently bland and derivative.

Martin Colloms  |  Nov 18, 2022  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1995
hfnvintageThe company is famed for its giant-killing budget CD players, but what can it do for £3000? Martin Colloms hears one of its high-end machines

Marantz is noted in the UK for its decade-long success in producing a chain of fine CD players at moderate prices. If sometimes contradictory on other matters, the audio press were almost uniform in singing their praises. But the success Marantz has enjoyed in Japan is less well known. By all accounts, high-quality audio remains very healthy there and Marantz engineer Ken Ishiwata has finely honed his skills in creating a range of high-end CD players that have achieved record sales in each directed market niche.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 19, 2022
hfnvintageThe first CD player from the Japanese brand to boast real 'kerb appeal', this mid-'80s machine also inherited key technology from previous models. How does it sound today?

Any early Compact Disc player from Matsushita (Panasonic/Technics) holds a particular fascination. The company was excluded from the top table when the CD format was created, in spite of (or perhaps due to) its pre-eminent position as the world's largest producer of electronic consumer goods.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 17, 2022
hfncommendedJust as Marantz's 40n integrated takes its design cues from models of yesteryear, the partnering CD 60 player confirms the brand's commitment to the 'legacy' silver disc

Is there really a CD revival on the horizon? Rolling Stone magazine kicked off the year bristling with optimism about the return of the Compact Disc but, behind the hype, there's little dispute that this physical format offers great lossless fidelity and costs next to nothing secondhand. Until audio hipsters cotton on to the trend, of course... Sound United, owner of the Marantz and Denon brands among others, concurs, which is why it's launching not one but two CD spinners in 2022. We're not going to talk about the entry-level Denon DCD-900NE here, but about the still very affordable £749 Marantz CD 60.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 08, 2022
hfnoutstandingRotel remains a family-owned hi-fi marque that boasts a three-generation, 60-year history. Now it celebrates its Diamond Anniversary with a very fine disc player and amp

The trend for 'anniversary' products – witness the plethora of celebratory hardware on display at this year's High End show – continues with Rotel's new Diamond Series. Released to mark 60 years since the brand launched, it comprises the £3999 RA-6000 integrated amplifier and £1999 DT-6000 CD player. Not the hefty additions to the Michi lineup you might have expected, these are instead very much classic Rotel designs (fitting, as the traditionalist brand is not one to hop on every new fad that comes along) albeit with trickle-down technology from its flagship stablemates.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2022
hfnvintageThis late-'80s flagship CD player boasted no shortage of metal for your money while offering 4x oversampling to boot. But with few to be found, is it worth tracking down?

The law of diminishing returns was perhaps never more evident than when the CD player arrived in the early '80s. As more machines came to market in the years that followed, all but the crudest would offer a level of perfection unthinkable to the majority of audiophiles in the 1970s.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 09, 2022
hfncommendedThe first SACD player from French audio artisans, Kalista, is also this spin-off brand's most comprehensive digital hub to date, with wired/wireless network streaming

Having emerged from French manufacturer Métronome Technologie with its inaugural model in 2003 – think Citroën spawning DS, or Seat's Cupra line – Kalista now has a growing range of DreamPlay products. This includes the £21,000 Kalista STREAM – described as 'The only streamer on the market that combines perfect functionality with exceptional looks' – and a turntable, the £44,000 Twenty-Twenty.

Martin Colloms  |  Jun 03, 2022
hfnvintageAt last, Krell Digital presents its CD player system, the MD-1 transport plus SBP-64X, and the less costly SBP-16X DAC. Martin Colloms listens

Krell has determined that digital audio should form part of its future, and has created a separately financed division called Krell Digital Inc. The MD-1 digital transport was shown last year together with the SBP-64X processor/decoder – an amazing combination at a price which left the industry breathless, being around £15,000 the pair.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2022
hfncommendedRemember when a CD player was just, well, a CD player? No DAC input, streaming or other digital goodies. Electrocompaniet does – say 'hello' to an old-school disc spinner

By coincidence, I started writing this review of Electrocompaniet's EMC 1 MKV CD player on October 21, which serious film nerds will know is 'Back To The Future Day', the date, in 1955, that intrepid time traveller Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) arrives in the smash-hit sci-fi movie. Marty has bent the spacetime continuum to head back 30 years, and I had a similar feeling with this silver disc spinner, albeit by a decade or so less and without aid from a DeLorean.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 10, 2022
hfncommendedThe latest all-in-one compact Class D streaming system from the German company features an enhanced network audio platform – but that's only the start of its appeal

As the model designation suggests, this isn't the first all-in-one network audio system from German high-end company AVM. Replacing its existing Inspiration CS 2.2 model, the new Inspiration CS 2.3, selling for £5250 in black or silver finishes, with a chrome 'Cellini' finish available as a somewhat glitzy extra-cost option, is based around the company's latest streaming platform.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 21, 2021
hfnvintageThis machine marked a step-change in Sony's assault on the early CD player market as the company ditched its own DAC in favour of a third-party solution. How will it sound?

The components in Sony's ES series represented what the company regarded as the most advanced designs available. They were top of the range, and aimed at those who were prepared to pay a little extra to obtain the best possible performance.

John Atkinson  |  Nov 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1985
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson reviews a high-end CD player from a specialist Swiss brand

Audiophiles who have spent large sums of money on LP playing equipment, such as myself, find themselves coming up with a number of excuses when presented with the thorny problem of reconciling the increasingly general acceptance of CD with their own love for vinyl.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2021
hfnvintageIt may have been based on a machine from Dutch giant Philips but this was the first CD player from a specialist high-end British manufacturer. How will it sound today?

Compact Disc enjoyed a halo of glamour in its early years that the more established formats had lost. Talk of laser beams and digital electronics, those holographic rainbows on the disc surface – not to mention all the smart new hardware – brought an interest in top quality listening to a whole new demographic.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 27, 2021
hfncommendedWell, one thing's for sure: the new SACD/CD player/DAC from McIntosh looks quite unlike any other machine of its kind. So, does the sound live up to the unique style?

Take a quick look at the £4995 McIntosh MCD85, and you'd probably think it was another in the seemingly endless line of amplifier variations emerging from the Binghamton factory in upstate New York. In fact, the first sign that this isn't actually a power amp is the weight. Thanks to their hefty transformers and solidity of build, the company's powerhouses tend to be back-achingly heavy, and arrive on pallets – the new MA1200 integrated amp, for example, weighs in at a shade under 49kg, and the MC901 monoblock is getting on for twice that. By contrast, the MCD85 is a manageable 12.5kg boxed, and a positively featherweight 9.3kg in the buff.

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